When traveling to another country, one of the most important aspects is its cuisine, which can truly enhance your experience. Finnish cuisine is no exception and offers a variety of dishes that can satisfy any traveler. Finland, with its breathtaking natural landscapes, modern cities, cheerful people, and delicious local food, is a destination worth exploring. Finnish Food often made from ingredients like rainbow trout, salmon, and potatoes, are delightful and can be enjoyed by all visitors.
Even if you’re not a fan of international cuisines, it’s hard to resist Finnish pancakes, savory meatballs, and some of the finest seafood dishes. In this article, we at FinlandQ introduce you to some of the most popular Finnish dishes, so you can try them during your trip.
1. Leipäjuusto: Finnish squeaky cheese
Leipäjuusto is a fresh cheese that originates from the Ostrobothnia region in northern Finland, dating back at least 200 years. Traditionally, it was made from the rich milk of recently calved cows, but today it’s often made from reindeer or even goat milk. However, the products available in stores are usually made with regular cow’s milk, lacking the authentic taste and texture, yet still delicious. Leipäjuusto can be enjoyed warm or cold and is often served as a dessert with coffee. To make it, milk is heated, and cheese curds are added. The mixture is then poured into a round mold and baked until it turns golden and gets a grilled texture.
2. Lohikeitto: Finnish salmon soup
Lohikeitto is a traditional Finnish salmon soup that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. The rich flavor of Finnish salmon truly shines in this soup, accompanied by mild spices, making it a delightful Finnish seafood dish. While American fish chowders are heavy with creamy, thick broths and white fish, this Finnish salmon soup offers a fresh twist. This dish is typically found on Finnish dinner tables, but you can also order it in restaurants.
3. Siskonmakkara: Sister’s sausage
Siskonmakkara is a fresh Finnish pork sausage that is first boiled and then pan-fried with a unique preparation method. It’s known for its tender and delicate meat, offering a distinct taste compared to other sausages you may have tried. The most common dish using this sausage is the Siskonmakkarakeitto, a soup where this unique sausage is used. It’s a beloved Finnish dish and trying it can be a unique experience.
4. Kalakukko: Fish pie
Kalakukko is a type of Finnish fish pie, considered one of the most beloved traditional Finnish foods, and a true delicacy for the people of Finland. A classic Kalakukko is packed with bacon and fish and is purchased from the Eastern Finnish region. The name Kalakukko comes from the French word ‘saucisse,’ which means small sausage. Finnish Kalakukko is anything but small, a bread stuffed with a delicious combination of bacon and fish. The pastry uses pork lard for the dough, giving it its unique flavor and texture.
5. Finnish Food Karjalanpiirakka: Karelian pasty
Karjalanpiirakka is a small, thin-crust pastry with a crisp and tender crust, typically oval in shape and measuring 7-20 centimeters. This pastry is commonly filled with rice, barley, or potato porridge, along with other vegetables. The filling is made by boiling grains like barley or rice in milk until they are tender. The pastry is made by kneading the dough thinly and almost transparent, referred to as piirakka, and is filled with this grain porridge.
6. Finnish Food Riispuuro: Rice porridge
Riispuuro, a Finnish rice pudding, is a traditional Scandinavian dish typically served during Christmas. Made from simple ingredients, this warm, creamy rice pudding is a perfect comfort food for those cold autumn or winter days when you’re cozy at home. Finnish rice pudding is often served as breakfast throughout the year in Finland. Typically, large batches are prepared and then stored in the refrigerator for up to a week for quick, warm servings. An interesting tradition associated with this dish is that a whole almond is placed in a full pot of rice pudding, and whoever finds it will have good luck in the coming year.
Paistettu muikku: Fried vendace
Muikku is a species of whitefish found in freshwater bodies in Northern Europe, especially in Finland and neighboring countries along the Baltic Sea. You can often find vendace fish in local shops, particularly during the warmer months in Finland. It’s a traditional Finnish dish that locals love to indulge in. To prepare this dish, fresh vendace fish are coated in coarse flour and then pan-fried to a golden, crisp perfection. It’s a dish that you should enjoy like the locals do: eat the entire fish, bones and all, similar to enjoying potato chips! But don’t worry, these fish are small, and their bones are delicate and won’t harm you.
These are just a few examples of the delicious dishes you can find in Finland. Finnish cuisine offers a diverse range of flavors and textures, and exploring these dishes can be a memorable part of your trip. Enjoy your culinary journey in Finland!
Poronkäristys: Reindeer Sauté
Poronkäristys is the national dish of Finland made from cooking reindeer meat. This Finnish dish hails from Lapland and has made its way to other parts of the country. In this dish, thin slices of reindeer meat are usually sautéed in butter, with or without onions, and slowly simmered in beer or meat broth until they become tender and succulent. The most common side dishes served with this dish include mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam, but it can also be served with pasta or rice. While this dish is often found in restaurants all across Finland, you can also purchase frozen reindeer meat in most supermarkets. According to recent studies, reindeer meat is not only very delicious but also one of the healthiest foods as it contains high levels of B12, omega-3, and omega-6, which is why Poronkäristys is enjoyed throughout the year in Finland.
9. Hernekeitto ja pannukakku: Pea Soup and Pancake
This dish is originally a simple pea soup made with fresh peas in the summer and dried peas in the winter. It is usually seasoned with onions, salt, and pepper to enhance its flavor. This soup is easy to cook, but you should always remember to soak the dried peas overnight. Finnish pea soup is always popular among the Finns, especially the elderly, but most young people dislike it. The older generation believes that Finnish pea soup is excellent, especially when served with smoked ham. This dish is usually served every Friday in Finnish restaurants, and alongside it, a piece of pancake with jam (and sometimes whipped cream) is also served.
Lihapullat muusilla ja puolukkahillolla: Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes and Lingonberry Jam
Have you ever heard of Scandinavian meatballs? Finnish meatballs are one of the popular dishes in this country that all Finns love. This dish is worth trying not only because it is delicious and very affordable but because it will fill you up. This dish can be found almost everywhere in Helsinki or other Finnish restaurants across the country.
Finnish Food Mykyrokka: Mykyrokka
Mykyrokka is another Finnish dish that has been cooked by people in the past. This soup is also known as the butcher’s soup, as it refers to an old custom of peasants slaughtering animals in the autumn and turning the meat and parts into sausages, smoked ham, and more. What remained was added to the soup, and Mykyrokka was born. This soup is made from potatoes, onions, meat, and parts of animals like the liver.
Makaronilaatikko: Macaroni Casserole
This Finnish baked macaroni with minced meat can be compared to American macaroni and cheese with cheese. All the people in this country eat it once in a while or at least once a week, and some love it so much that they can even have it every day. When you are in Finland, you are not obliged to eat it, but if you are looking for something that tastes familiar, Makaronilaatikko will be a good choice.
Kaalikääryleet: Cabbage Rolls
This dish is popular throughout Europe. This Finnish cabbage roll, also known as kaalikaaryleet, is made with minced meat, rice, cabbage, and minced meat. This dish is a complete meal and can satisfy you completely.
Korvapuusti: Cinnamon Rolls
One of the popular cakes among Finns is cinnamon rolls that their aroma will whet your appetite. These buns are mixed with cardamom, so they have a scent that will remind you of Northern Europe.
Mustikkapiirakka: Finnish Blueberry Pie
This Finnish Food is not an ordinary blueberry pie that you can taste anywhere. In the summer, Finland has a lot of blueberries, and the taste of the cake made with these fresh blueberries will be very different from the blueberry pies made with cultivated blueberries around the world. This Finnish blueberry pie is an excellent choice for an afternoon snack. You can have a Finnish blueberry pie with a cup of coffee to rest after a walk around the city and taste the authentic taste of European sweets with all your being.